The second year of NBC's comedy about the world's most off-task study group continues the laughs, though some of the year's theme episodes verge on being too clever for their own good. The DVD release is a solid one across the board, doing well especially in the special features department.
Community: The Complete Second Season
Release Date: September 6, 2011
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Packaging/Materials: Two double-disc slim cases with slipcover
Running Time: ~8:25:00
|THE EPISODES||SPECIAL FEATURES|
|Video||1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen||Standard definition|
|Audio||Dolby Digital: English 5.1||Stereo|
The Season: 4/5
The second year for Greendale Community College's misfit study group will be one filled with personal growth and self-discovery, but that doesn't mean it won't be fantastically absurd too. After all this is the college whose mascot is the creeptastic Human Being, and whose student body will adopt a "wholly" inappropriate symbol to adorn its school flag.
At the end of last season, Britta (Gillian Jacobs) publicly confessed her love for Jeff (Joel McHale) at the school's Transfer Dance, to which he responded by running away and then secretly making out with (the still technically teenaged) Annie (Alison Brie). From the first day back the three will have some issues to work out.
Meanwhile, over the summer the affably juvenile Troy (Donald Glover) moved in with the misanthropic geriatric Pierce (Chevy Chase), making for an odd, but surprisingly workable, partnership. But their pairing won't be the year's strangest as Shirley's (Yvette Nicole Brown) love life will take a sudden turn into left field, resulting in yearlong question in need of an answer.
As for Abed (Danny Pudi), his year will involve further insights into the mysteries of human nature - from the base to the noble - all within his pop culture-infused world view.
And then there's the former Señor Chang (Ken Jeong), whose dismissal as the school's Spanish teacher now puts him in a position to shamelessly ingratiate himself with his former students - now taking Anthropology together - in hopes of finding a place where an oddball like him truly belongs.
Having hit a homerun with the first season episode "Modern Warfare," (AKA the paintball episode), "Community's" writers generated even more homage and spoof episodes for the delightfully ridiculous comedy's second season. Some of the scripts worked better than others - most notably the one with the KFC spaceflight simulator and the one riffing on conspiracy theories - but many times the show verged on being too clever for its own good. Episodes involving more organic situations - like Troy's 21st birthday party or Annie's attempt to direct an anti-drug play - felt refreshing for their lack of contrivance and return to good old character development. With the season's goal of moving beyond the walls of Greendale and into the personal lives of its main characters, fewer high concept episodes would have made more sense. Of course, given the popularity of the paintball episode, it was inevitable for the second season to revisit at least that situation again. Fortunately, it in no way disappointed in its thematic bent, even managing to end the season with a character-driven cliffhanger to lead into the third year. Though it could change the study group's dynamic considerably, it does make a highly original show now surprisingly unpredictable.
"Community: The Complete Second Season" on DVD includes all 24 episodes that aired between 2010 and 2011 on NBC. "Community's" third season is scheduled to premiere Thursday, September 22nd at 8/7c.
Video Quality: 4/5
With the show being broadcast in HD, it's difficult not to be disappointed by the lack of a Blu-ray release. Still, my love of the show outweighs any misgivings about video formats, as long as the image quality isn't a total disaster. And it isn't, though there are the usual issues inherent to a standard definition release. Viewers will notice occasional moiré in fine pattern areas, compression noise in swaths of backgrounds, and softness or haziness in wide shots. Color, black level and contrast are uniformly solid, however, suffering only a little under the dimmest of light levels (which are relatively infrequent). There's also a touch of edge haloing from time-to-time, though not enough to distract from the show's practically non-stop laughs.
All 24 episodes are correctly framed at 1.78:1 and enhanced for widescreen displays.
Audio Quality: 4/5
Surround activity in the 448 kbps Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track provides support for the music soundtrack, and sometimes crowd noise and other types of environmental effects. The mix isn't the most subtle, but it gives the decidedly non-subtle show a little more dimension than a straight stereo mix would. Bass response is also very solid, particularly in the season's final paintball episodes. Center channel dialogue is consistently clear and intelligible.
Special Features: 5/5
Providing a commentary track for every episode is an impressive gift to fans, but certain members of the cast are conspicuously absent (Alison Brie anyone?). Still, there are enough deleted scenes, outtakes, and in-depth, behind-the-scenes documentaries to make up for it.
- Episode 1 - Anthropology 101: With Gillian Jacobs, Joel McHale, Joe Russo and Chris McKenna.
- Episode 2 - Accounting for Lawyers: With Joel McHale, Rob Corddry, Joe Russo and Emily Cutler.
- Episode 3 - The Psychology of Letting Go: With Chevy Chase, Donald Glover, Anthony Russo and Hilary Weinstein.
- Episode 4 - Basic Rocket Science: With Dan Harmon, Donald Glover, Anthony Russo and Andy Bobrow.
- Episode 5 - Messianic Myths and Ancient Peoples: With Yvette Nicole Brown, Danny Pudi, Richard Erdman and Garrett Donovan.
- Episode 6 - Epidemiology: With Dan Harmon, Donald Glover, Ken Jeong and Anthony Hemingway.
- What's the Worst that Can Happen with Chang? (:36): A less dramatic (and funny) ending to "Anthropology 101."
- I'm a Vegetarian Anarchist (:51): Britta engages in some verbal sparring with an attorney.
- Episode 7 - Aerodynamics of Gender: With Donald Glover, Gillian Jacobs, Adam Countee and Jake Aust.
- Episode 8 - Cooperative Calligraphy: With Dan Harmon, Yvette Nicole Brown, Joe Russo and Megan Ganz.
- Episode 9 - Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design: With Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Jim Rash and Chris McKenna.
- Episode 10 - Mixology Certification: With Yvette Nicole Brown, Joel McHale, Neil Goldman and Andy Bobrow.
- Episode 11 - Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas: With Dan Harmon, Danny Pudi, Dino Stamatopoulos, Ludwig Goransson and Duke Johnson.
- Episode 12 - Asian Population Studies: With Yvette Nicole Brown, Donald Glover, Ken Jeong, Danny Pudi and Anthony Russo.
Creating Wonderland (17:34): Goes behind the scenes of the very special, claymation Christmas episode, including the writing of the script, interviews with the cast and crew, and a look at the animation process from character design to voice recording.
Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas Original Storyboard Animatic (21:44): The full episode in animatic form with pre-recorded cast dialogue.
Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas In-Process Animatic (21:26): Includes stop motion elements combined with animatic sequences.
- Where's the Party? (:45): Chang tries to catch up with Jeff.
- Episode 13 - Celebrating Pharmacology 212: With Chevy Chase, Jim Rash and Hilary Winston.
- Episode 14 - Advanced Dungeons and Dragons: With Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Joe Russo and Andrew Guest.
- Episode 15 - Early 21st Century Romanticism: With Donald Glover, Gillian Jacobs, Ken Jeong and Steven Sprung.
- Episode 16 - Intermediate Documentary Filmmaking: With Dan Harmon, Joel McHale, Joe Russo and Megan Ganz.
- Episode 17 - Intro to Political Science: With Joel McHale, Dino Stamatopolous, Joe Russo and Adam Countee with appearances by Robert Smigel and Andy Dick.
- Episode 18 - Custody Law and Eastern European Diplomacy: With Yvette Nicole Brown, Gillian Jacobs, Anthony Russo and Andy Bobrow.
Season Two Cast Evaluations (10:35): The cast takes a break from paintballing to awkwardly talk about the season with Dan Harmon.
DJ Steve Porter Remixes Season One (1:50): Scenes and soundbites from the first season set to a hip dance beat.
- This Won't Be Very Effective (:47): Abed tries to draw out Jeff's feelings on video.
- He's a Real Giver (:30): Jeff comments on Pierce.
- The Excrement of Strangers (:21): A nurse talks about her job.
- Episode 19 - Critical Film Studies: With Ken Jeong, Danny Pudi, Neil Goldman and Sona Panos.
- Episode 20 - Competitive Wine Tasting: With Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Joe Russo and Jake Aust.
- Episode 21 - Paradigms of Human Memory: With Dan Harmon, Jim Rash, Tristram Shapeero and Chris McKenna.
- Episode 22 - Applied Anthropology and Culinary Arts: With Yvette Nicole Brown, Donald Glover, Gillian Jacobs, Ken Jeong and Jim Rash.
- Episode 23 - A Fistful of Paintballs (Part 1): With Jim Rash, Joe Russo, Andrew Guest and Garrett Donovan.
- Episode 24 - For a Few More Paintballs (Part 2): With Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Joe Russo and Hilary Winston.
The Paintball Finale from Script to Screen (20:00): Tracks the follow-up to the first season's highly popular paintball episode, with behind-the-scenes glimpses from the writer's room and from paint-spattered set.
- Spirits of the Elders (:44): Star Burns reveals a secret.
- Are You Trying to Shoot Yourself? (1:05): Shirley and Britta share their feelings.
Previews: Includes a promotional clip for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Blu-ray (1:20), Bad Teacher (2:27), Zookeeper (1:04), and Salvation Boulevard (2:12).
The Season: 4/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 5/5
Overall Score (not an average): 4.5/5
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment turns in a solid audio and video presentation for "Community's" hilarious - but sometimes over-intentional - second season. The special features' plethora of commentary tracks will keep viewers busy, though the outtakes and documentary pieces also provide a great mix of laughs and behind-the-scenes information.